Politely put, Providence shaped up

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2011 - 9:24 PM

Opponents size up the Lions and think they can be physical with them. That's just the way Providence likes it.

hide

Providence Academy running back Marshall Klitzke (shown at practice) shined in the quarterfinals vs. Perham, scoring three second-quarter touchdowns.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The football players from Providence Academy, a 10-year-old Catholic Prep School in Plymouth, come across as polite young men who look you straight in the eye when they talk and answer questions with "yes sir" and "no sir."

And they take the football field in their Notre Dame-like uniforms and smack their opponents in the mouth and hope they get smacked back.

Enviable social graces not withstanding, the Lions pride themselves on being able to take a hit and respond just a little bit harder. That's a big reason a program fielding only its sixth varsity team in school history is one game from playing for a state championship.

"People always underestimate us," coach Nate Harrington said. "They think we are, for lack of a better word, cake-eaters. We expect that. But we're a physical team. That's how we've gotten this far."

Their success is rooted in how they responded to two notable and recent failures: a loss to Holy Family Catholic in the 2010 section playoffs and a lopsided season-opening loss St. Croix Lutheran, their opponent in Saturday's Class 3A semifinal game.

"Those games," said senior linebacker Phifer Nicholson, "showed us what our level of commitment needed to be to play with those teams."

The Lions left no approach to improvement unexplored, whether it was traditional weightlifting or more unconventional ideas like four-day-a-week kickboxing classes.

The preparation worked. Providence Academy players cite conditioning as the No. 1 reason for their progression from a team that had won only one playoff game in school history to one of the few still playing this late in the season.

"I am so much better now than I was last year," senior cornerback Sam Pellegrene said. "I'm in the best shape of my life."

Saturday's quarterfinal victory over Perham was the Lions' season in a nutshell. The Yellowjackets came out in a belligerent mood, determined to beat Providence physically.

It worked -- for about one quarter. Providence, showing it can give as well as it gets, trailed 6-0 early but took control of the game with a 21-point second quarter, all on short, bruising touchdown runs by relentless running back Marshall Klitzke.

Like a distance runner who sets too fast a pace, Perham had little left to mount a comeback.

"We like it when teams underestimate us," Nicholson said. "Teams think we're soft and it gives us more motivation to show they're wrong."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close